No-one wants to think that their new wonderful partner has given them a little bit more than a good time but the sad fact is that there are a lot of sexually transmitted diseases out there. AIDS gave the world something of a collective shock and inspired many excellent, government-led advertising campaigns advising anyone having first-time sexual encounters with relative strangers to always use protection. These campaigns have mostly fallen away and there is now a small but steady increase in the incidence of STDs.
There are many different types of diseases which are passed through sexual intercourse and other forms of sexual activity. They are extremely dangerous as some can show no signs at all and only be discovered through testing.
For example, the HIV virus has no visible marks which indicates that the person has HIV. Unless this person checks for infections, there's a large chance that it will progress to AIDS, at which point it would be too late to prevent from spreading further.
The symptoms caused by STIs can include hives, or itchy rashes, pain, discomfort or burning during intercourse or urination, abdominal discomfort, and, for women, excessive or unusual vaginal discharge. Other things to watch out for include skin diseases, lesions, blisters and sores around the private parts and even flu-like headaches, joint pains and other indicators occurring around a week, to two weeks, after the sexual encounter.
Its best to take a proactive approach to STDs. A good and sensible precaution that will provide you with peace of mind is to go for a full physical check-up every year and request an ‘across-the-board’ STI screening test. You may not feel ill or be displaying any symptoms but your doctor will be able to see if there is cause for concern or not.
The best way to prevent getting infected with an STD is to practice safe sex. Using condoms is one of the safest ways although there is always a risk when having sexual intercourse in any form. Having regular screenings to check that you don't have an infection also helps because if given a clean bill of health, you know there is nothing to worry about, but if you do have an STD, it will be caught earlier enough to treat it simply.
There are many STDs which are as of yet, untreatable. Once you've got an STD, it's possible to live with it for a lifetime. There are a few which can be cured, but most treatments involve minimizing the visibility and effects of the symptoms so it doesn't affect your life too badly. This includes herpes: there's currently no cure and will stay for life, although treatment can reduce visible symptoms. The main two types called type one and type two cause sores on different parts of the body. Both forms are easily passed from person to person as it simply requires direct contact with a sore, or body fluid from an infected person to be passed along.
Ironically STDs that display their traits quickly, and that are curable with a course of medication or antibiotics are the ‘best’ ones to have – they are likely to be noticed promptly and, following testing at a clinic, treated appropriately. Being cured from the infection is likely to restore some confidence, although hopefully a certain amount of caution will remain as regards picking future partners and practising safe sex. Sadly, many sexual diseases do not cause symptoms in all patients, and sufferers with gonorrhoea, known colloquially as ‘the clap,’ and HPV, the virus responsible for genital warts are amongst them. Gonorrhoea is curable with a course of medications, while HPV has no cure at present.
What to remember:
- STD are on the rise globally
- Contracting a sexually transmitted infection is not a sign of being a bad person
- You may be infected, but not know it
- Although STDs are normally transmitted through sexual intercourse, they can also be shared through an exchange of bodily fluids such as kissing or blood transfusions if the donor hasn't been properly checked.
- If for any reason you feel as if you may have an STD, contact your doctor straight away. This includes if a previous sexual partner contacts you to let you know that they've been diagnosed with something.